26.02.2004 Feature Article

Uniliver and GJA's Day of Shame

Uniliver and GJA's Day of Shame
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Restructuring the Corporate and Public Affairs Unit of Uniliver Ghana, and the Ghana Journalists Association's Awards Committee, are twin projects that must be given a serious thought if the annual ritual of awarding journalists is to regain its credibility. Audrey Gadzekpo's arrogance, and the Ghana Journalists Association's inertia , of accepting what comes its way, and not responding to sensibilities, would make it easier any attempt aimed at nurturing a new association for Ghana's responsible and open-minded journalists. The Ghana News Agency, Daily Graphic, Ghanaian Times, and TV3 chapters of the GJA have already passed the test. Their boldness marks the beginning of a new era, their relentless pursuit of the truth and wisdom. Within Ghanaian journalistic circles, there were arguments, pointing to “cronyism” in the GJA, an association which agrees to uphold the truth, serving as the “voice of the people”. For a company worth its salt, public concern should be given the needed attention and respect as a means to protecting a good corporate image, and to help people appreciate the relevance of genuineness. Komla Dumor is a man without shame, considering how he developed a thick skin to receive the Journalist of the Year Award. Uniliver Ghana has a shameful record too, therefore, its decision to justify and support what is wrong is not a surprise. Uniliver is just perpetuating one of its trademarks. For Uniliver, living with falsehood is much loved than abhorred. In 1994, I saw the devastation - how Uniliver's oil palm processing plant at Adum-Banso in the Western region of Ghana, polluted the River Butre which serves many communities in the Ahanta-West and Mpohor-Wassa-East districts. When the people of Adum-Banso conducted me round the banks of the River, I saw how corporate interest is protected at the expense of humanity. One of the Estate Managers told me during an interview: “Do not mind the villagers, they have been bad neighbors”. The sad part being that the people have to be contend with bad drinking water, as Uniliver continues to rake in millions of dollars. Uniliver is a bad neighbor, its history of exploitation and twisting the truth well known in Ghana. Uniliver develops a bad reputation for itself; sometimes it stretches a benevolent arm for a wrong cause. A recent example - its package for Komla Dumor , who disgracefully received the Journalist of the Year Award. The Ghana Journalists Association's Awards Committee also fits into this bad contour. The two are no strangers to a world where “connectivity” can send you everywhere. A world fast moving to a stage where name recognition can replace excellence. Just be part of an “Everyday English” program on Radio Ghana, and learn to become an interviewer later in life. Ghana boosts of journalists with exceptional qualities and achievements whose works deserve due recognition and praise. Komla Dumor is not one of them. The hullabaloo surrounding Dumor's controversial award, coupled with Uniliver's lack of judgment should serve as a reminder, a source of worry to the new GJA under Ajoa Yeboah-Afari, that all is not well in an association we all cherish to see develop, devoid of pernicious attributes. For the Ghana News Agency, Daily Graphic, Ghanaian Times, and TV3 chapters of the Ghana Journalists Association, the need to espouse the truth and professionalism is paramount, nourished by Ben Petterson's reflection. “To wait on God is to struggle and sometimes to fail. Sometimes the failures teach us more than the successes. For the failures teach us that to wait on God is not only to wait for his mercy. The glory hidden in our failures is the discovery that the very thing we wait for is what we wait by! The success of our waiting lies not in who we are, but in who God is. It is not our strength that will pull us through to the end, but that of God and His Mercy” The truth cannot be replaced with falsehood. Losers are not declared winners. The author, an alumni of Rutgers University, was a former associate at the features desk, Daily Graphic, Accra, Ghana. He now lives in Augusta, Georgia. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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